With constant change a given, leaders must build up resilience
Leaders with strong self-knowledge can stop their misdirected reactions before hurting others, focusing on the things they can control. File photograph: iStockPhoto
Resilience is the ability to adapt to complex change. In today’s world, with change being the only constant in organisational life, leaders must continuously cultivate this quality.
Here are four strategies you can use to build resilience:
1. Take honest stock of your skills
Resilient leaders take stock of the skills and experiences that have prepared them to face difficulties, and recognise what they may lack. They prepare themselves as best they can and readily acknowledge their shortfalls.
2. Curb misplaced irritability
Confronted with intense levels of stress amid turbulent change, leaders’ fuses get short. Those without sufficient awareness of how their behaviour is being affected tend to take out their stress on whomever happens to be in the way.
Leaders with strong self-knowledge can stop their misdirected reactions before hurting others, focusing on the things they can control.
3. Push back on unrealistic expectations
Leaders with strong self-knowledge don’t fear pushing back on others, including bosses or customers, and renegotiating goals and timelines when they don’t make sense. With a clear rationale and supporting data, these leaders make their case for why expectations are unrealistic and what risks are imposed by not adjusting them, while offering alternatives. They do this with the intention of helping those with implausible aspirations to adjust their outlook before facing a major setback.
4. Recognise when you’ve fallen into ambivalence; go back to first principles
Protracted seasons of adversity can lead even the most tenacious leaders to feel discouraged. Many leaders subconsciously succumb to an “autopilot” approach to cope. But their resulting ambivalence causes those around them to also lose hope.
Leaders mindful of their flagging tenacity redouble their efforts to push ahead, inspiring those around them to do the same. – Copyright Harvard Business Review 2017
Previously published in The Irish Times.
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